Airwolf (1984-1987) TV Series: Gone But Not Forgotten

In the early eighties, cutting-edge action usually revolved around futuristic vehicles. On TV, Knight Rider turned a talking car (KITT) into a sensation. CBS, wanting to get in on the action, adapted the formula to the skies with a futuristic helicopter called Airwolf, enlisting Jan-Michael Vincent and screen veteran Ernest Borgnine to star. The show’s roots can probably be traced to the big screen hit Blue Thunder, which featured a similarly powered helicopter. It also spawned a series of the same name, which was cancelled before Airwolf hit the air.

Perhaps one reason this show succeeded is that while Blue Thunder was mainly a show about cops in Los Angeles, Airwolf’s scope was international. In it, Jan-Michael Vincent’s Stringfellow Hawke used Airwolf to fight larger-than-life supervillains while searching for his brother, who went MIA in Vietnam.

The show was a sizeable hit, but it suffered from a troubled, erratic star in Vincent, whose substance abuse battle was an ongoing problem for CBS. Eventually, they would drop the show, only for a much lower-budgeted version to be revived in syndication minus Vincent or co-star Borgnine. It would only last a year. Still, the show holds a special place in the hearts of kids who grew up in the eighties, all of whom daydreamed about flying Airwolf, and we examine the show’s legacy in this week’s Gone But Not Forgotten. This episode is written by Jessica Dwyer, narrated by Travis Hopson and edited by Michael Robenalt. Let us know in the talkback if you remember Airwolf, and watch previous Gone But Not Forgotten episodes here!

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.